Two New London city officials gave decades of service
By Scott Bellile
Two long-time city officials retired Friday, May 29 after serving New London for a combined 76 years.
Dan Neely stepped down as street and park superintendent after working for New London for 46 years. Mark Ebert hung up the keys as building and grounds superintendent after 30 years of service.
“There’s a lot of great history going out the door,” said Parks and Recreation Director Chad Hoerth.
Both oversaw the employees and projects within their respective departments but stepped up wherever else help was needed throughout New London’s relatively small city government, according to Hoerth.
“They work very well together and provided a great team atmosphere,” Hoerth said.
Their replacements began training May 11 and took over the positions on Monday. Don Goodreau, an internal hire, succeeds Neely with almost 10 years of experience in the street division. Ebert’s successor, Ted Christian, is an outside hire who owns the business Christian Builders in New London.
“Everything seems to be working out good,” Neely said in regards to the leadership transition.
Neely’s day-to-day duties included overseeing parks upkeep, mowing and winter plowing. His recent projects included work on the Bernegger River Walk and the New London Jaycees Dog Park, Hoerth said.
“Forty-six years is a long time to be with one organization,” Hoerth said, adding that Neely moved his way up from street worker to superintendent.
Neely would always pick up large tree limbs and roll them into the end loader bucket when no one else wanted to tackle them, said Scott Sockett, a retired street division employee who worked with him for a 31-year history dating back to the 1970s.
“Back then Bob Fritz always used to say Neely and I were the best workers he had, except for when he put us together,” Sockett said with a laugh. “I’ll always remember that one.”
The biggest changes over time have been the crews and the higher-quality equipment the city has attained, Neely said.
“It’s been a lot of years but it’s been fun,” Neely said.
Neely’s plans going forward include keeping busy with a part-time job and fishing.
Whereas Neely looked after the outdoors, Ebert devoted his time to fixing the indoors. Ebert’s recent undertakings included roofing projects at the Washington Center, New London Aquatic and Fitness Center, New London Public Library and the city hall.
Library Director Ann Hunt deemed Ebert an “all-around handyman.”
Julia Martinson, assistant aquatics supervisor at the pool, said Ebert helped out day or night, noting that he once spent four days fixing a leaking toilet in a locker room.
Ebert devoted two weeks to the pool every spring when the facilities shut down for maintenance. The harsh environment between the chemicals and the humidity requires annual preservation work. Ebert said the pool was built in 1980 to last 20 years in a southern-U.S. climate.
“He’ll be missed but we’re looking forward to working with Ted too,” Martinson said.
Ebert plans to spend his time welding, constructing crafts and also working a part-time job.
“I gotta keep moving,” Ebert said. “I can’t sit.”